The birth rate will very likely decline because of the pandemic. The consensus of the demographers and sociologists I consulted was that in times of heightened uncertainty, people are less likely to bring children into the world. And the future is doubly uncertain right now: Potential parents are likely worried both about their (and their children’s) future health, and their future finances.
One recent survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health nonprofit, found that about a third of women in the United States ages 18 to 49 were planning to postpone pregnancy or forgo adding a child to their family because of the pandemic. The economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine have estimated that there could be 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021 than if there had not been a pandemic.
This could put 2021 babies in an unusual and arguably beneficial position. Being born into a small cohort has “consequences for how many classmates they have in school and how the labor market looks when they graduate from high school or college,” Vogl said. Perhaps getting into their college of choice, or securing the job they want, will be marginally easier.